Don’t Call It a Comeback*

*Nah, it’s actually fine to call it a comeback.  That’s pretty legit, actually.

Welp, it looks like I pulled a disappearing act again. I’m like Houdini, but with less magic!

Truth be told, after all the messiness of 2013, in 2014 I found that my creative mojo decided to take a prolonged leave of absence. (I think it didn’t like the extreme stress and decided to move to Aruba. I can’t say blame the poor thing.)

Being in survival mode led to very little in the way of creative output, so even after my last couple posts, I struggled to come up with something — anything, really — to write about. I’d sit down at the computer and basically drool on myself, then give up and go watch TV. Basically, writer’s block has been following my around like a puppy with the world’s worst case of separation anxiety. I wish it were an actual puppy, because at least then it would be cute. So, I guess it’s better to say that it’s been more like a barnacle with separation anxiety: scratchy and uncomfortable, and seemingly permanently affixed.

During that time, though, I’ve been desperately missing creative work generally and writing specifically. Writing has been like an old, dear friend throughout my life, and this persistent case of writer’s block has been like having that dear friend disappear into thin air.

So, reviving the blog signals the beginning of my effort to lure that dear friend – aka my creative mojo – back from its sojourn in Aruba.

I’ve put together a long list of writing prompts, and my plan is to post my responses to those prompts here a couple times per week. A public creative writing exercise, if you will. Those responses will likely be interspersed with random thoughts, somewhat coherent musings, and updates on life — but by and large, my goal is to help myself get back into the groove of writing, if only to prove to myself that my writer’s block isn’t permanent. I need to know that my creative mojo is still in here somewhere, at least in some small measure, and that it didn’t permanently relocate to a gorgeous beach where it’s now sitting in a hammock while drinking a piña colada from a coconut. (Yes, friends: in my mind’s eye, this is exactly what it’s been up to.) This cowgirl needs to get back in the saddle.

Before I do that, though, I have some updates:

– I had my most recent biopsy in September, and – drumroll, please – everything’s back to normal! This was cause for serious celebration, as you can imagine. With apologies for the impending TMI, the next task is for me to get knocked up as soon as possible, since a successful pregnancy is protective against recurrence. (There’s also that whole “I’ll be 34 in a few weeks and am quickly approaching that magical ‘advanced maternal age'” thing too. So, y’know, time is of the essence.) Think happy pregnancy thoughts for us/send baby dust/allow me to hug any super-fertile women out there.

– My dad got a great new job in Texas, so my parents have relocated to the State With Which No One Should Mess. I never in eleventy billion years would’ve thought my parents would leave Colorado, but they did – and lo and behold, their new setup is pretty fantastic. We went to visit them earlier this month, and it was lovely. Not to mention the fact that having my parents live 3 hours from Brandon’s is awfully convenient!

So, those are the big-ticket items going on in my world.  I’m excited about this new writing project (we need to come up with a formal Operation name for this…hmmmm) and, hopefully, the triumphant return of my creative mojo!

With that in mind, tell me: what’s new and exciting in your world? What have I missed out on while I was away from the blogosphere?
 

WTF, Wordpress?

Well. I had a post all ready to go for this morning, but WordPress keeps deleting it whenever I try to publish it. (Luckily I wrote it in Word, which I learned to do after WordPress pulled this nonsense a few times last spring.) And I must say: even though I didn’t lose the content of the post, having WordPress delete it three times is effing infuriating.

It doesn’t help that I didn’t get enough sleep again last night (insomnia is my nemesis), which means I’m uber-cranky this morning.

So, WordPress, you’re on my sh*t list this morning. You’re on there along with the wind chill (which is very, very cold), the bus (which has been very, very inconsistent), the fact that the aforementioned WordPress nonsense means I’m now going to be late to work, and a handful of other things.

Anyways, it’s going to be a “try really hard to a) be productive, and b) not be grouchy” sort of day. When days like this strike, I try to focus on the good things, no matter how small. So, knowing that, the things not on my sh*t list today are: caffeine, the trashy celeb gossip mags I’ll read this afternoon when I’m at the gym, and the Icy Hot soothing my sore left hip after yesterday’s run along around the monuments. Oh, and Whole Foods’ curried pumpkin soup. That stuff is delish.

Soooo…soup, Icy Hot, Us Weekly, and caffeine: here’s to you, my friends.

All Mondays Should Involve a Two-Hour Delay {MIMM}

It finally snowed here! Well, ok, it snowed for a couple of hours (we picked up a whopping .5″, which is better than nothing) before transitioning to freezing rain.

I’d normally complain about freezing rain, because I feel like it’s the worst possible combination of weather patterns (if it’s going to be frickin’ freezing and there’s going to be precipitation, I want snow) but today it has brought us the next best thing to a snow day: a two-hour delay. I woke up at my normal time to see this beaut on the website of the office that makes the call on weather-related closures/delays:

Snow & Dismissal Procedures Current Status

Washington, DC, Area

Applies to: December 9, 2013

Status: Open – 2 hours Delayed Arrival – With Option for Unscheduled Leave or Unscheduled Telework

Huzzah! Mondays should always start with a delay, in my opinion. I’m adding it to the list of policies I’ll implement once I’m a benevolent overlord. It’ll be part of the “ease back into the workweek” plan I’d mentioned last week. All in favor, say “Aye”!

I particularly needed this delay after a busy weekend — a weekend that involved my plan to Christmas-ify the apartment. Operation: Holiday Spirit was a success, y’all.

I really wanted to get a tree, but our space for it is pretty darn small. I thought we’d have to go hunting far and wide for a small-ish tree that would fit in our apartment, but lo and behold, as we were en route to lunch on Saturday we drove right past a place that had a veritable cornucopia of small trees. Win! We picked one up yesterday, took him home, and dressed him up. I’ve named him Melvin.

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The folks at the tree stand also let me take some cast-off greens that had been cut away from other trees, so I also got my decorating on around the living room.

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And, for one of my favorite pictures, I’d like to introduce you to Wine Bottle Burqa. She was a wedding gift from a friend who’d been deployed to Afghanistan before our wedding, and she is exactly what her name implies: the exact same type of burqa approved by the Taliban, but designed to fit nicely over the necks of wine bottles. I’ve thought about doing a series of Wine Bottle Burqa still life shots throughout the year, which would depict her doing things like enjoying the springtime amidst the flowers. This is the first installment in that series: Wine Bottle Burqa gets in the holiday spirit.

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On a separate note, I slept like crap last night and am trying to gear myself up for a trip to the gym. I know I need to get ‘er done this morning, because shoddy sleep means I’ll be too wiped out this afternoon to drag myself to the gym. Oy. I clearly needed this weather delay.

And, as always, thanks to Katie for hosting MIMM — here’s to getting through Monday!

MiMM

TGIF, Holiday Gift Guides, and Other Fun Things

Good morning, and happy Friday!

It’s a rainy morning outside, but I’m excited because it’s about to get chilly up in here. Yesterday it got up to a whopping 66 degrees — which, while enjoyable for a day or so, feels kind of strange for December. I did, however, take advantage of it as much as possible with a walk to Whole Foods and a 4 mile run around the National Mall. It’s always wonderful to get outside and get some fresh air!

Speaking of Whole Foods, I picked up this grocery bag there, and I’m convinced it’s the cutest grocery bag ever. We have a ridiculous surplus of reusable bags, but I couldn’t resist this little guy. I mean, it’s a baby stegosaurus om nom noming an apple! (The tag says he’s a generic monster, but I beg to differ. He’s clearly a stegosaurus.)

 

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Anyways, today I’m sheltering myself from the rain by working from home. I don’t often get to do this, but I was given a project that has some flexibility — so, for the first time in the five years since I moved back to DC, I’m chillin’ in my home office. I had one other day of working from home a few weeks ago, and OMG. It was sublime.

I expect today to be similarly fabulous: I’ve got a warm cup of tea, and I fully intend to spend the day looking like a total schlub in my yoga pants and sweatshirt. (Yoga pants > work pants. In fact, yoga pants > work pants by a power of 10,000. Also, can we talk about how work shoes/heels are actually instruments of torture? Every single pair is giving me horrible blisters now. Even my old faithfuls have started tearing up my skin when I wear them for more than 10 minutes. And, because I have super narrow feet and struggle to find shoes that fit, I reeeaaaaalllly don’t want to have to go shoe shopping. Blergh.)

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And, on a wholly separate topic (or, as the Monty Python boys say, “An now for something completely different!), when I had some downtime the other day I started scouring various holiday gift guides for some shopping inspiration.

I don’t know about you guys, but holiday shopping makes me want to crawl into a hole and hide. I haaaaate large crowds, and I especially hate large crowds filled with frantic holiday shoppers. This is made even worse by the fact that I often don’t know what to buy for people (why is everyone I love so hard to shop for?!), which means I’m forced to browse among the aforementioned awful crowds of frantic holiday shoppers.

 

 

Like I said, it makes me want to crawl into a hole and hide. Happily, though, I’ve been doing most of my holiday shopping online for the last few years (Amazon: you complete me), so that’s made things better.

However, coming up with gift ideas is still a challenge. Because I can’t deal with that whole hot mess of guesswork anymore, this year I sent my parents and brother an email saying that they were forbidden – absolutely, totally, unequivocally banned – from saying things like “Oh, I don’t know what I want” or “Oh, just get me something you think I’d like.” I told them that I need definitive ideas, or at least a list of places they’d like gift cards to, because I’m not taking shots in the dark on this anymore.

If that’s not the embodiment of holiday cheer, I don’t know what is.

Anyways, for those of us who aren’t heartless enough to give their nearest and dearest holiday ultimatums, a lot of awesome healthy living websites have been compiling some great holiday gift guides. If there’s a foodie, athlete, or health junkie in your life (or, possibly, someone in need of healing), these lists could help with gift-giving inspiration.

For foodies: Greatist has an awesome list of kitchen gadgets, edible goodies, and books that will light up the eyes of any foodie or kitchenista (yeah… I totally just made that word up) in your life.

For athletes: Girls Gone Sporty, one of my favorite online health and fitness resources, has a fantastic gift-finder. You can search gifts for men, women, and teens – and you can sort the options by price, gift type (relaxation, athletic tools, etc.), so it’s super user-friendly. FitSugar also has a list of Practical Stocking Stuffers for Fitness Fans, and it’s chock-full of great ideas.

For eco-mavens: Well + Good features a lovely list of five gifts for a healthy, stylish home.

For those who love healthy living or are looking to get healthier: Meghan Telpner, author of UnDiet and nutritionista extraordinaire, compiled a fantabulous gift list for just about anyone who’s interested in health and wellness. Truth be told, I’d gladly accept every single thing on her list. Especially the meal delivery. Sweet fancy Moses, the meal delivery. If I had a week off from cooking dinner, I’d be so excited I’d probably faint.

 

Anyways, with allllll that being said, happy Friday! And now, I want to hear from you…

Do you ever get to work from home?

Do you like cold weather around the holidays?

Do you love or loathe holiday shopping?

What’s the best gift you ever bought/made for someone?

What’s the best gift you ever received?

 

Not Enough Time in the Day

Gah! It’s been almost a week since my last post, and I still haven’t caught up on replying to peoples’ comments. I haven’t forgotten about y’all — I’ll do it soon, I promise! 🙂

The last week wound up being really busy, but in a good way: the kind of busyness that involves seeing lots of some of my favorite people. We spent last Saturday with some good friends who we haven’t seen in months — and sweet fancy Moses, was it ever good to hang out with them and catch up. It’s amazing how restorative a day with friends can be, especially in a place like DC where it’s easy to feel isolated and lonely in a room full of people.

After that, my uncle (my mom’s brother, who we’re both incredibly close with) came down to DC for work and stayed with us for a few nights. I cooked up a storm for the two uber-tall, uber-hungry dudes in my house, and it was awesome to see him!

The next few days will be similarly (read: delightfully) bonkers, too: we’re seeing Thor with friends tomorrow after work, and then heading up north on Saturday morning for a farewell party for one of my besties whose husband just got a job transfer to Texas.

So, my schedule may be totally nuts these days, but it involves seeing some of my favorite people — so it’s worth the piles of dirty laundry and the nearly empty fridge.

It does, however, involve little to no blog activity, and that’s the only drawback. However! Things will calm down soon enough, and at that point we can get back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Until then, though, have a wonderful Thursday and an awesome weekend!

What sort of things fall by the wayside when you get really busy?

Do you have big plans for the weekend?

A Day Redeemed + Coffee Conflicts

Ok, y’all: yesterday was, quite simply, weird.

It started out badly: I hadn’t slept well, I was way behind on stuff around the house, and then things started going strangely awry in really annoying ways. For example, our shower curtain had reached its limits in terms of keeping water, y’know, in the shower — so in an unexpected twist to my morning, I was greeted by water all over the bathroom floor.

It’s a good thing I was way behind on laundry so I could use dirty towels to mop up the floor. Ew.

Then, since I was running late as a result of said unfortunate shower curtain incident, I was frantically applying facial moisturizer — at which point I somehow managed to slice my nose open with my fingernail. Try to put on makeup while stemming a bloody nose if you’re up for a morning challenge! Maneuver around the Kleenex! Apply pressure to the cut while applying concealer to the bags under your eyes!

However, after all that weirdness, my day quickly redeemed itself. We had cool, crisp weather here in DC yesterday, which I looooved — this is the time of year when we get a lot of cool, clear, and gloriously sunny days. And they’re amazeballs.

I decided to take advantage of it and go running in the afternoon, which wound up being the highlight of my day. I ran 3.5 miles (I know this is, like, a warm-up for most of you — but hey, we can’t all be distance runners :)) around the National Mall, and it was as perfect as a perfect run can be. This is the time of year when most of the tourists have gone home, so the path was wonderfully open. I took a few walking breaks since recent medical tests have kept me from consistently exercising, but I wound up feeling better than I thought I would. Between that and the perfect weather, it was an awesome run!

To say the least I’m glad I didn’t give in to the temptation to just give up and go back to bed after the way my morning started. Which I, um, might have seriously contemplated.

Anyways, on to the main news! What is that news, you ask?  I’m feeling conflicted about coffee (hence the title for this post). Given the name of this blog, it doesn’t take much to realize that I’m a big fan of coffee. Seize the Latte = this chick loves her some java. It’s not rocket surgery, amirite?

I didn’t like coffee when I was younger (I thought it smelled amazeballs when my dad brewed it each morning, but the taste made me get all cross-eyed), but that all changed when I went to college.

I was especially overextended and sleep deprived my sophomore year, and that was that bleary-eyed autumn when I went from chugging chai lattes and Diet Coke to hitting the hard stuff — better known as espresso.

 

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An accurate representation of my life in the BC (that’s Before Coffee) days

 

I still remember my first foray into coffee: in a haze of exhaustion, I went to the Starbucks on campus. “I need your help,” I said to the barista through a jaw-breaking yawn. “I don’t like coffee, but I need coffee. Can you make me something strong – something that’ll wake me up – but that doesn’t actually taste like coffee?”

Thirty seconds later, I was sipping a skim latte with almond syrup. Ten minutes after that, the most glorious caffeine buzz in the history of mankind kicked in. The rest is history.

Since then, I’ve become known for my love of – and, let’s be honest here, my dependence on – coffee. For example,  every roommate I’ve ever had has known that I only became a full-fledged human being once I’ve had my morning latte. Furthermore, my friends here in DC have decided that this little guy is my spirit animal.

 

haha

 

In recent years, though, I’ve gone back and forth on whether or not coffee and I are really BFFs. Sometimes coffee makes me feel energetic, upbeat, and optimistic. I want to run! I want to write a book! I can accomplish anything! I BELIEVE I CAN FLY! Other times, though, it makes me anxious, mopey, and jittery. My hands shake, I schvitz like I just went running in Saudi Arabia in July, and I’m a weepy, nervous wreck. I BELIEVE IN IMMINENT DOOM.

Adding to coffee’s propensity to mess with my mood, I have a long and illustrious history of tummy troubles – all of which are definitely aggravated by the acidity in coffee.

So, from time to time, I’ve tried to make the switch to just drinking green tea. Every time I do this, I feel better – less mopey, less anxious, not in a desperate search for more TUMS – and yet, I always go back to coffee. It’s like a bad relationship: it keeps sucking me back in, ploying me with promises that it’ll be different this time. “I love you, baby,” it says. “I promise I’ve changed. Things won’t be like they were before. Just give me another chance!”

And I listen. Every. Single. Time.

 

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A few years ago, I listened because I love it so much and simply didn’t want to give it up. When I tried to make the switch then, I was so irritable that, upon seeing some unsuspecting college student walk by with a Starbucks cup, I actually imagined stealing the coffee right out of her hands and running away while screaming like a banshee. (I obviously didn’t do this, and I was wigged out that it had even crossed my mind.)

In other cases, it’s been because I think that I’ve found a magical solution that will prevent the negative side effects I often experience. I’ll be fine! No tummy issues or anxiety for me, because I’ve figured out a work-around! It’ll be great! (Fact: this is never true, and apparently I’m delusional.)

Sometimes it’s because I have too much to do and not enough time to do it in, and then I wind up desperately tired and sleep-deprived. Not getting enough sleep turns me into a heinous, cranky, exhausted, and borderline psychotic beast. Coffee keeps me from becoming that beast. It’s best that I save myself and everyone around me from that fate. (See? Coffee drinking is in service to humanity.)

Most recently, though, I did it because I needed that extra jolt of energy in order to get through my morning workout. Green tea wasn’t cutting it, and I was draaaaaagggiiiiiiinnnnnng myself to the gym each morning. With the coffee, however, I was raring to go. I was amped! I was motivated! BRING THE PAIN!

 

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Last week, however, three separate articles crossed my path in one afternoon — all of which discuss coffee’s role in insulin resistance, depression, anxiety, and hormonal imbalances. Not one, not two, but <i>three</i> articles landing in front of me within one day? This seemed too coincidental to ignore. (You can read the articles, two of which are from Mind Body Green and one of which is from Dr. Mark Hyman’s website, here, here, and here.)

As I read, I realized that all this stuff really, truly, and undeniably is a problem for me.

Anxiety? Check.

Feeling “Wired and tired”? Check.

Inflammation? Check.

An unhappy GI tract? Check.

Hormone imbalances? Check, check, check, and more check.

And so, I decided to try — for, like, the 8 billionth time — to kick my coffee habit in favor of green tea. I’m exactly five days in, and I admit that I mightily miss my cup of java in the morning. I miss the smell, I miss the taste, and I really miss the caffeine buzz.

However, I keep reminding myself that my body needs this. My brain needs it, my stomach needs it, and my endocrine system needs it. The only thing keeping me from successfully making the switch is myself.

So, I’m going to do everything I can to get out of my own way with this. The allure of the hazelnut coffee (both in my freezer at home and in the cafeteria at work) is strong, but I must. Remain. Stronger.

With that in mind, tell me:

Have you ever tried to kick the coffee habit? Has anyone succeeded in letting go of caffeine entirely (and, um, if you did this, did you hate everything)? What have your experiences been with this? Do you have any suggestions on how to ease the transition?

An Extra Hour

Good morning, everyone! How was your weekend? Did you get some extra sleep after “falling back” for daylight savings?

I had a much-needed restful weekend, and I feel particularly well rested after moving the clocks back an hour. I always have mixed feelings about daylight savings: I haaaaate that it gets dark so early in the fall, but I love the daylights (pun intended) out of that extra hour of rest. The well-rested feeling lasts for a few days, which I adore.

By contrast, I loooooove that it stays light in the evening in the spring, but I can’t stand losing that one precious hour of rest. Similarly, it takes me a few days to re-adjust to having lost that hour, and I wind up feeling groggy and like a a really irritable zombie all week. Instead of saying “Braaaaaiiiiins,” I wind up muttering “Sleeeeeeep” as I stumble around like an insane person.

But I digress.

In both cases, I try to focus on the thing  that does make me really happy. (If we’re looking at trade-offs, I figure it can’t hurt to focus on any and all benefits.) In this case, it’s sleep. Sleep is my homie. My BFF. I love it to pieces.

I decided to milk that extra hour for all it was worth: I slept and dozed and lounged, knowing that I had extra time and didn’t need to worry about getting up and being productive. Leisure! Rest! GLORIOUS!

So, while it’s getting dark obscenely early now, I at least got to spend the day being way lazier than I normally would. And I have to admit: I really like being lazy.

Aside from my propensity to lounge around endlessly in my PJ’s, we had a lovely weekend. We hit up our favorite Indian restaurant for their lunch buffet, saw Ender’s Game — which, BTW, was awesome, and I highly recommend seeing it — and then visited one of my favorite grocery stores here (Mom’s Organic Market).

I love grocery shopping in general — I’ve loved it since I started cooking when I was in high school — but I especially love shopping at Mom’s. Mom’s, while not as economical as places like Trader Joe’s, has produce that looks so flippin’ gorgeous, it’s almost inspirational. I really think that if you could take a bona-fide vegetable hater and show them the produce at Mom’s, they’d reconsider their loathing of anything that comes from the ground. It’s heavenly.

After all that shopping, I whipped up some healthy breakfast-ish muffins. I’ve been trying to squeeze more veggies into our daily routine, and we’re both pressed for time in the mornings — so I figured this would be a good means of both saving time and giving us something healthy to snack on.

 

Gluten Free Morning Glory Muffins

While the original recipe, courtesy of Martha Stewart, is already pretty healthy, I decided to up the ante on this. I used gluten-free almond and amaranth flours, replaced the sugar with agave, substituted 1/2 cup of the flour for ground flaxseeds, and substituted almond milk for skim milk. (I also nixed the oil, because the batter was plenty moist without it, and the raisins, because I really don’t like having raisins in baked goods. I’m weird like that.)

With those substitutions, these muffins are gluten- and dairy-free, refined sugar-free, and loaded with protein, fiber, and produce. I know almond flour sometimes doesn’t sit well with some Celiac tummies, so if you decide to make your own GF version, use whatever GF flour you like — I obviously haven’t run that experiment myself, but I suspect it’d work just as well.

Healthy Morning Glory Muffins (Adapted from the Martha Stewart recipe)

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup amaranth flour
  • 1/2 cup ground flax seed
  • 1/2 cup agave nectar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup GF rolled oats
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup almond milk
  • 4 medium carrots, shredded
  • 1 medium ripe banana, mashed

Baking time will probably depend on your oven (mine gets funky sometimes, for reasons I’ll probably never understand), but these will bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck into the center of each comes out clean.

I hope everyone had a lovely weekend and that all your days are off to a marvelous start! If you’re in the mood for some more marvelousness, feel free to swing by Healthy Diva Eats, where the lovely mamacita Katie hosts a weekly link-up for Marvelous in my Monday — it helps the beginning of the week feel less painful. 🙂

MiMM MIMM #74  Family, Dinner Date, and More!

Weekend Recap

Aaaaand just like that, the weekend is over. Blergh. I don’t know about you guys, but this is how I feel each and every week:

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No dice on that one, I’m afraid — but at the very least, I can revel in the fact that I had a lovely weekend. I woke up bright and early on Saturday morning, and I decided to take advantage of this and get some errands done before the hordes of people descended.

A quick side note about DC: it takes freaking forever to get anything done around here. Between traffic, finding parking, dealing with the crowds in the store, and then waiting to check out, two errands — like hitting up Walgreen’s and Trader Joe’s — can take hours under normal circumstances. There have been times when our entire afternoon is consumed by just going out to lunch and hitting up Whole Foods on the way home, so I decided to circumvent that whole mess and hit the road at 7:45.

Happily, it wound up being awesome. I was one of the only people at Walgreen’s, and TJ’s was blissfully lacking in huge crowds. I was out and done in record time, which was a huge win! I also picked up epic loot at TJ’s; I didn’t get a picture before putting everything away, but let’s just say I could’ve used a barge to transport it home.

 

After the grocery run, I met one of my dear friends for coffee — which, I must say, was awesome. Once we had caffeinated ourselves and talked for aaaaaaages (it’s a time-honored tradition with us), I came back to find Brandon watching The Conjuring. Now, Brandon and I have divergent views on horror movies: Brandon really likes them, but I hate — nay, abhor with every fiber of my being — anything even remotely scary.

I have a wildly over-active imagination, which means the slightest hint of something scary will send me over the edge. I’m 32, and I totally close my eyes during previews for horror movies. When I finally got up the nerve to watch Scream in 1998 — a movie that most of my friends thought was funny because it was just so campy and ridiculous — I could barely answer the phone for a week.

So, I created a rule that Brandon can only watch horror movies when I’m not home. Since I was at coffee for a few hours, he understandably seized the opportunity to watch the horror movie he was most interested in. It wound up working out well: when I got home from Starbucks, I knew I needed to hit the gym — but my motivation was flagging. Knowing that The Conjuring was playing in my living room? MOTIVATION RECOVERED. I grabbed a magazine and my headphones and then booked it towards the door. I. Was. Outta there.

 

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This is an alarmingly accurate depiction of what I look like after merely *hearing* the previews for horror movies.

 

After 50 minutes of cardio, I was pleased to find that the movie was long since over once I got back. Biggest sigh of relief ever, y’all.

After a busy Saturday, I spent most of Sunday getting caught up on stuff around the apartment. Sundays tend to be my big chore days — when I clean, do laundry, and chop veggies/act as my own sous chef — and this week was no different.  I get all kinds of discombobulated and flustered when things aren’t in order for the week ahead, so Sundays are when I prepare, organize, and try to come up with ways to save time during the week. (Outer order equals inner peace, folks.) I had a truly ludicrous pile of laundry to deal with and an equally ludicrous pile of veggies to chop up, so one could say that I had my work cut out for me.

 

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Yup, a Mt. Everest-sized pile of laundry seems about right.

 

I did, however, take a break from all this in order to hit the gym. I’d intended to go for a run, since the weather we’ve been having lately — cool, crisp, and sunny — feels sublime after an oppressively hot and humid DC summer, but my running route was blocked off as part of the Marine Corps Marathon.

As I headed to the gym as my Plan B, I thought about all the people running the marathon and promptly realized that I have a confession to make: when it comes to running, I max out at 4 miles. I can eke out five miles if I’m really, really feeling awesome and ambitious.

But a marathon? Nope. I mean, I know marathons are all the rage these days. Marathons are one of the trendiest trends ever right now, and it seems like everybody who’s anybody is doing them. Those people all deserve major credit for doing something so challenging, because holy crap — that’s an impressive undertaking.

That said, though, I’m actually pretty sure I’m the only health/fitness-ish blogger alive who isn’t in marathon or half marathon training — which probably totally negates my credibility as someone interested in health and fitness — but I can’t even express how much my knees start screaming in protest when I even contemplate running a marathon.

 

This course is about 21 miles too long for me and my creaky knees.

 

So, that’s my big “I’m a lame health blogger” confession: I have no desire to run a marathon. Do I love running in 5Ks? Heck yeah. Do I love solitary four milers? Absolutely. But marathons are so, so not in my future. Forgive me, running gods, for I have sinned!

That being said (please don’t turn me into the health blogging police!), I also took a break from my mountain of chores to watch my beloved Broncos take on the Redskins. As a displaced Coloradan who only gets to see her boys when they play on national TV (as opposed to every Sunday back in the Motherland, le sigh), this was a big deal. I like to get decked out for game day in all my Broncos paraphernalia, which probably looks ridiculous — but whatevs, anything in the name of team spirit! (Is it overkill to wear a Broncos sweatshirt while drinking out of a Broncos glass? I think not.)

Anyways, now that another work week is upon us, I hope you’re all getting your day off to a good start!

And, with that, tell me: what was the highlight of your weekend?

Moms Are the Best

Moms are the best. This is an irrefutable fact, ranking right up there with other irrefutable facts like the world being round, humans being carbon-based life forms, and chocolate being one of the most delicious creations of all time,

My mom flew in on Tuesday so she could be here for my latest (and, ohpleaseohpleaseohplease, hopefully my last) round of tests to see if the uber-strong doses of progesterone have been able to get rid of the endometrial cancer — and having her here is both a) a huge help, and b) totally awesome. (To any moms or future moms out there reading this: if your kids ever need surgery or any big medical procedures, do whatever it takes to be there with them. It makes a world of difference!)

Anyways, I had an outpatient surgical procedure yesterday to retrieve endometrial tissue samples for the good folks in pathology to look at. Once they get all up close and personal with the tissue samples, they’ll be able to tell if the cancer cells are still there, if they’ve regressed into a pre-cancerous stage, or if  they’ve regressed all the way back to being normal, happy, benign little endometrial cells.

Obviously we’re all hoping for the latter, since the party-crashing cancer cells were definitely not welcome guests in my baby-making bits (or anywhere, for that matter). Given their killjoy ways, this was definitely not a case in which — to quote one of Alicia Silverstone’s many awesome monologues from Clueless — we could “get to the kitchen, rearrange some things, and party” with the rogue cells. It might not say RSVP on the Statue of Liberty, but my fingers are crossed that the progesterone has been acting like a big, burly, and ill-tempered bouncer who patrols my uterus to keep party-crashing cells from returning. Kinda like this guy, but with more ‘roid rage:

 

 

Anyways, mi madre is keeping me company while I recover from the surgery and wait for the pathology results. Right now, we’re planning ways to stay occupied while I convalesce — and the first thing on our list is to watch movies. Mom and I both love animated children’s movies, so the ol’ Netflix streaming queue will soon be filled with movies like Epic and The Croods. (I’ve been chomping at the bit to see The Croods for a looooong time. When I first saw a preview for it in the theater, I got all giddy — a phenomenon that Brandon kindly tolerates, as all these movies are meant for people 25 years younger than me.) Brandon’s and my Netflix recommendations list is going to look quite different once Mom and I are done with our movie binge…bwwwhahahahah!

I also have some art projects on deck, so forced convalescence is the perfect chance to finish them up and send them off. They’re both surprise gifts for two dear friends; I love sending “just because you’re awesome” cards or crafts to people (is there anything better than sending people little surprises to uplift them/make them happy? I think not), so I’m seriously excited to get these collages polished off and in the mail. There’s some benefit in it for me, too: I’ve found that doing creative, artsy things is seriously therapeutic and often helps me heal faster. Now that’s a win-win if I’ve ever heard of one.

Lastly, if I’m up to it, there might even be some retail therapy involved — I live within walking distance of a lot of shopping opportunities, so depending on how I feel, there might be some mother-daughter efforts to help boost consumer spending numbers. (Hey, it’s all in the name of national economic recovery. We’re doing our part to help the country crawl out of the recession! Shopping is patriotic!) After all, I’m in dire need of new facial moisturizer, and I’m totally not a fan of all the paraben- and phthalate-laden products available at CVS. Given all the insanity going on with my hormone levels, the last thing I need is increased exposure to endocrine disruptors. So, this cowgirl is on a mission to find effective, toxin-free facial moisturizer. Spill your secrets, Sephora.

 

image

 

For now, though, I’m remaining mostly horizontal-ish on our recliner. My in-need-of-redecorating temple mainly needs rest, so that’s my numero-uno objective for the day. It’s time to curl up with some books and a cup of tea, which — and I know this will come as a huge surprise, given my love of both reading and drinking tea — I’m pretty stoked about.

I hope everyone is having a lovely day so far!

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? (Or, Why I’ve Been AWOL from the Blogosphere for Three Months)

So, as y’all may or may not have noticed, I’ve been on an extended hiatus from blogging lately. And by “extended,” I mean three months. Which, in the blogging world, is basically an eternity. (I don’t know if I even have readers anymore. Is anyone out there? Please come back?)

This wasn’t a hiatus that I’d expected or wanted to take; to the contrary, on the day of my last post, I had every intention of blogging merrily along. Life, however, had some other plans.

As you might recall, starting in late May I had some fairly serious, shall we say, lady-troubles. I wound up having a uterine polyp removed in early July, which solved the Flaming Lady-Troubles of Death problem – but as it turns out, the story didn’t end there.

On July 11, my OB/GYN called to give me the results of the pathology report on the polyp. Fact: when your doctor starts the conversation by saying “The results of your path report were really, really surprising,” you know that things are about to go in an unpleasant direction.

As it turned out, the polyp was playing hostess to a party-crashing group of cancer cells. Um, WTF?

The bad news: Multiple pathologists had confirmed the presence of cancer in the polyp.

The good news: The cancer cells were very early-stage, low-grade, and non-aggressive. In other words, it’s highly treatable.

 

You are stronger than you think.

 

Endometrial cancer usually shows up in post-menopausal women, so the normal course of treatment is a hysterectomy. Being 32 and still wanting to have children, however, is a game-changer.  In the interest of preserving my fertility, my OB/GYN and gynecologic oncologist opted for three months of high-dose hormone treatment, followed by another round of tests to see if the hormones had knocked out any remaining cancer cells.

The hormone treatment does the trick 80% of the time – so as you can imagine, my fingers are crossed that I’m part of that 80% and can thus hold off on yanking my baby-making bits (for now, at least, since it’ll all need to go once my child-bearing days have passed).

When I first got the news, though, I was in complete shock. I was at work when I got the call, and I very nearly vomited on my desk. My whole body shook like mad as I wrote down everything my doctor said. My handwriting looked like that of a six-year-old.

I mean, I’m young, I eat well, I exercise – how could my body just go rogue like that? (Side bar for a brief public service announcement: ladies and gents [if the dudes haven’t gotten grossed out and stopped reading, that is], if anything seems off or just generally out of whack with your body, go to the doctor. Get it checked. It’s never, ever a waste of time to make sure that nothing sinister is going on.)

My doctor, luckily, was and is incredibly compassionate. Over and over, she gently told me that I’d done nothing wrong, and that there was nothing I could’ve done differently to keep this from happening. It was a case of a hereditary genetic mutation gone awry and plain bad luck.

I started the hormone treatment that night – endometrial cancer feeds on estrogen, so I take uber-high doses of progesterone twice a day – and began to wrap my head around the fact that this really was happening.

 

Look forward with hope quote via Alanna Chasin (AKA the Dog Buddha)

 

The process of wrapping my head around the situation took a while, and the fact that it took me a long time to feel up to writing about this came as a bit of a surprise. Writing and exercise have always been my go-to forms of DIY therapy. Writing is my catharsis, my release, and my home. And yet, I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

A bit part of why I didn’t write until now is the fact that I don’t want to be forever branded as a cancer patient. I was torn between wanting to let people know what’s going on and my deep desire not to be labeled as “Lillian, that chick who has cancer.”

Now, I also want to note that there’s no right or wrong way to deal with the Big C. There are people who take great comfort in being part of a community of current patients and survivors, and those communities are often wonderful sources of support. There are also a lot of people who find tremendous purpose, meaning, and hope through activism and other activities. More power to all these folks! Many of them are doing amazing and inspiring work, and they deserve a ton of credit for what they do.

For me, though, my visceral reaction was – and is – that I want to get through this, get better, and put it all behind me. I don’t want cancer to be the focal point of my life or my writing.

So, while the issue of the rogue elements in my baby-making parts will certainly show up here from time to time (especially since I have my next  round of tests coming up next week), it isn’t going to be the sole focus of this little slice of the blogosphere.  I continue to love – and will continue to write about – normal things like food and fitness, as well as generally inane things like celeb gossip, cosmetics, and flavored coffee. It’s all good.

And, most of all, it’s good to be back.